ICC: Governments must deliver for business in Durban

In an exclusive article for RTCC, Jean-Guy Carrier, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce – the voice of global business – explains why progress at COP17 is so important.

Business has already demonstrated considerable success in integrating sustainability into business practices, for example via voluntary codes like the ICC Business Charter for Sustainable Development, which has provided thousands of large and small companies around the world with the basis for sound environmental management.

Other examples include reporting initiatives, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), standards and guidance such as ISO 14001, voluntary sectorial approaches and “soft law” approaches, such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

Companies in all sectors have taken concrete actions, from reducing environmental impacts across value chains to increasing energy and resource efficiency, investing in low-carbon and renewable energy and reducing waste.

But more needs to be done if we are to meet economic, developmental and environmental challenges. Efforts by all actors need to reconcile bottom-up sustainability efforts with the need for a longer term systemic change of macro political economic models. A “green economy” must ultimately function in a self-sustaining way and become integrated in international and global markets.

Time for action

In June 2012, world leaders will meet in Rio for the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio+20). It is a time for reflection on what has been achieved and what still needs to be done, including the challenges and progress made on climate change post-Durban.

As companies operating across countries and value chains, we understand the need to deal with a challenge such as climate change in a global and cooperative manner.

We strongly encourage governments to implement the UNFCCC Cancun agreements in Durban and work towards a truly global agreement on climate change, while establishing effective domestic policies to deal with climate change.

ICC’s fundamental mission is to promote trade and investment across borders to help meet the challenges and opportunities presented by globalization.

Very early on ICC understood the need for action on environmental issues and has a rich history of leadership dating from the 1980ies, e.g. the UNEP-ICC World Industry Conference on Environmental Management (WICEM). In this manner, ICC has never limited itself to policy advocacy, waiting for governments to solve problems.

Leadership required in Durban

Just this year ICC launched its G20 Advisory Group, a CEO-led platform for global business to provide input to the work of the G20 heads of state and government on topics such as green growth, commodity prices, trade and investment.

Drawing on the expertise of our global network, ICC also helps spread best practice among companies and has developed a large array of voluntary rules, guidelines, and codes that facilitate business across borders, such as a model contract on international transfer of technology.

As the official business and industry focal point in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and a founding convener of Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD) 2012, the official business coordination for Rio+20, ICC continues to be deeply committed to helping build partnerships so all actors can meet their shared responsibilities in continuing to implement the objectives of sustainable development.

We will remain a steadfast rallying point for those who believe, like ICC’s founders, that strengthening commercial ties among nations is good for business, good for world living standards, good for the environment and good for peace.

The International Chamber of Commerce and Responding to Climate Change will be hosting an exclusive side-event focusing on low-carbon business and technological innovations in Durban on Friday 2 December. For more information please contact Ed King on [email protected]

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